Baseball is a game of records. Outside of team performance, there is a large “zone of value” dominated by individual player records.
Last year, when Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees made a last-minute push for the American League record for most home runs in a single season, all eyes were on him. Even fans of the Yankees’ rivals cared more about whether or not Jersey hit a home run than whether or not the Yankees won or lost.
Players may be gone, but records live on forever.
Three players have been in the spotlight this season as they hunt for history. Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) is attempting to become the first player in history to hit 40 home runs and strike out 200 batters. Venezuelan Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta Braves) is on a mission to reach the 30-homer, 70-strikeout plateau that no one has ever reached before. And Luis Arajuez (Miami Marlins) is in a close race with a .400 batting average.먹튀검증
Of these three, who is the most likely to achieve the record?
For now, it’s Ohtani. He hit 46 home runs in 2021 and struck out 219 batters last year. He’s just trying to do both in one season. As of July 17, the Angels have played 72 games (40-32) and Ohtani is on pace for 50 homers and 236 strikeouts with 22 homers and 105 strikeouts.
In 15 games in June, Ohtani is batting .421 (24-for-57) with seven home runs, 16 RBI, 14 runs scored and a 1.451 OPS. Ohtani is traditionally strongest in June. His 1.161 career OPS in June ranks third all-time. He’s behind Lou Gehrig (1.208) and Babe Ruth (1.207).
But hitting goes in cycles. There’s a good chance his pace will drop in the hot summer months. It could pick up again in September. These are just math projections. But baseball is a game where the math usually works.
Ohtani pitched six innings of two-run ball against Texas on April 16 to earn his sixth win of the season. AP
However, after being untouchable in April, Ohtani’s velocity has dropped dramatically since May. He picked up a win against the Texas Rangers on April 16 with six innings of two-run ball, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to maintain that consistency. He’s made some breakthroughs by relying less on his sweeper and more on his fastball and cutter, but his pitches are basically jagged.
As a result, his strikeout rate has dropped significantly. In three games in June, he struck out just 15 batters in 17 innings. Still, he’s halfway to the 200-strikeout plateau with 105.
As of today, Acuna Jr. has 15 home runs and 30 doubles. Arithmetically, that puts him at 35 homers and 69 doubles. While 70 homers is a stretch, 30-homer, 60-steal seasons have never happened in major league history. Acuna Jr. hit 41 homers and stole 37 bases in 2019. After falling short of 40 steals that year due to a season-ending injury, he has been motivated by his explosive pace this season. “Let’s see how many stolen bases I get this year,” he said, expressing confidence.
The record that Ohtani and Akuna are looking at, even if it’s the first in history, is more attainable than Araujo’s 4.4 percent batting average.
Luis Araez gets hit in the arm by a ball hit by Michael Kopeck during the first inning against the Chicago White Sox on Monday (Nov. 11). AP
There have been 13 four-hit seasons in AL/NL history since 1901, the start of modern baseball. The last was Ted Williams’ .406 in 1941. Then, for 81 years, until last year, there were no four-hit players. It’s more like extinct. That’s what makes Araúez’s challenge all the more daunting.
Arajuez was hitting .402 through the last 11 days of the season. But after going 1-for-5 against the Chicago White Sox on Dec. 12, his average dropped to .397, and he went 0-for-14 over the next three games, dropping to .378. By all accounts, he was a quarter of the way there.
But on July 17, Arajuez went 5-for-5 against the Washington Nationals, raising his average to .390. It was the first time in 18 years that a Miami player had two five-hit games in a season since Juan Pierre in 2005. To get back to four, however, he’ll need to go 4-for-4 against Washington on Aug. 18, or mark at least 11 hits in 22 at-bats from that point forward.
The highest batting average in a season since Williams is Tony Gwynn’s .394 in 1994, and George Brett stayed in the quadruple digits as late as 134 games in 1980. Araújo is on pace to fall short of either of those marks, but he’s certainly qualified for the challenge. His strikeout rate of 5.5% is “historic.
When Ohtani’s 40 home runs and 200 strikeouts, Akuna Jr.’s 30 home runs and 70 doubles, and Araez’s 4% OBP are all achieved, it goes without saying that 4% will be the record to watch. In the realm of value, you have to give a lot of credit to a .400 batting average. That’s not the same thing as MVP honors.
After his five-hit day, Arajuez said, “Four percent is hard, but it’s not impossible. I want to get a hit in every at-bat, and today I went 5-for-5, which is beautiful.”